CCAC Looks at Street Names, Polo Traffic

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Andy Slack of the county government’s mapping division raised the problem of streets with different names growing into connection with each other at the Crozet Community Advisory Council’s February 18 meeting. The main problem is the extension of Park Ridge Drive through the Foothills Crossing area. Will the road change names once it meets Hilltop Street and will Hilltop Street change names once it is connected to Library Avenue? To an ordinary driver, it would seem to be all one road.

“Basically, five roads will connect that all have different names,” explained Slack. “We want to start a discussion to see if there could be one, or two, names. There’s a possibility people will have to change addresses.” There are 15 new addresses in Foothill Crossings and 32 in Parkside Village that could be affected, he said. One solution would be two names that meet at an intersection with the future “eastern avenue” planned as a north-south connection from Three Notch’d Road (Rt. 240) to Cory Farm and Rt. 250.

“We want to find a happy solution,” said Slack. “The usual process is to write all the affected property owners.”

CCAC member Jennie More suggested that the matter be postponed until a road plan for the lumberyard is known.

“We need to start thinking about it,” said Slack. “It could wait until the roads are near to being connected.”

White Hall District Supervisor Ann Mallek said she thought it would be wiser if the street name questions were decided before houses are built on them.

The connection of Hilltop Street to Park Ridge Drive is expected to happen within a year. County planners are currently reviewing plans for the new road section.

David King of King Family Vineyards told the CCAC that the Special Use Permit that the county awarded to the winery in 2004 to allow it to host the Pink Ribbon Polo fundraiser for breast cancer research expired last year. The winery wants to clarify its ability to continue to hold polo matches under the new ordinances that are designed to promote on-farm commercial activities.

“We want to clear up a gray area about what we can do,” said King. “We want to make clear everything we do and make sure we are in compliance. We voluntarily went to the county.

“We would prefer that the SUP be indefinite. So we are asking to do what we have been doing for the last 10 years. On Sunday afternoons [from May through October] we are open for polo. We have teams, mostly local, and there’s no admission. It’s guys and gals running around on horses. It’s becoming harder to find players, but it’s becoming more popular with the public.”

King said they are asking for an attendee limit of 1,000 and that a usual crowd for a Sunday match is between 400 and 500 spectators. Parking has not been a problem, he said. The Vineyard hires traffic managers who set up cones on Half Mile Branch Road at the farm entrance to get cars off the road as promptly as possible.

“There’s no sound at the matches. No announcer or music. So, it’s no changes, but we would like to be able to continue to do it. It’s a family day with kids. We ask for dogs to be leashed.”

King, who opened the winery in 1996 and who is now the chair of the Virginia Wine Board, said that the increase in traffic on Half Mile Branch Road is due to population growth in Crozet, “not because of what we do at the winery,” and because some drivers are using the road now as a route to Interstate 64 and Western Albemarle High School.

Jackie Washington, who lives on the road nearer to Yancey Mills, said traffic has increased markedly on Sundays. Another neighbor, Tim Spicer, said he has not experienced any inconvenience from traffic.

“Our own grandkids live on the road, too, and we don’t want it turned into a race track by widening it and flattening it,” agreed King. “We think our history on the farm has been to try to reduce traffic on the road.”

Mallek said there are no plans for road improvements to Half Mile Branch Road.

King said that if the polo matches were to draw 1,000 visitors they would be so big that the farm would probably not want to hold them.

The CCAC was not required to act on the matter, but the meeting was considered a public meeting for the Crozet community to be able to express itself on the topic.

“We’re here to do the right thing,” said King. “Agri-tourism is a huge component of state economic development plans. The state is very committed to it and this area is one of the very best places in the state to be in the wine business. We could see more of it here.”

Another neighbor said, “We are concerned about the safety of the road, not with anything the Kings are doing.”

King said he would keep the traffic managers on duty longer on Sundays to discourage speeding.

CCAC member John Savage said he did not hear any objection to the renewed SUP and suggested the CCAC would offer a resolution of support for it once it advances to official county review.

Crozet Community Association President Tim Tolson offered to host a town hall meeting, likely in April, to allow the public to talk about potential development plans for the vacant lumberyard in downtown. He said the CCA is willing to hold meetings monthly, if needed, to broaden public discussion of matters that are coming before the CCAC.

The CCAC elected a vice chair, choosing David Stoner over Mary Gallo by a vote of 8 to 6. Jennie More will take over as chair at the April meeting. Current chair Meg Holden’s term on the CCAC runs out in March.

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